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ADL condemns planned march in Estonia honoring Nazi SS

July 21, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release) — Saying it would “trample on the memory” of World War II labor and concentration camp victims, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) condemned a march, planned for July 31 in Vaivara, Estonia, to honor an Estonian division of the Nazi SS that fought in a 1944 battle against Soviet troops.

 Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor, issued the following statement:
 
“Opposing Soviet repression is one thing, but celebrating the Nazi SS is quite another. Unfortunately, in the past we have seen Estonian officials participate in such events, rather than oppose them. 
 
“Vaivara should evoke mourning and reflection, not celebration. Twenty thousand Jews from across the Baltics were imprisoned in the Vaivara camps, as were other victims and prisoners of war. Every two weeks the Jews who were too sick or frail to work were murdered. Those who march will trample on their memory.
 
 “A telling choice once again lies before Estonian officials. They, along with responsible members of Estonian civil society, should unequivocally condemn the planned march in Vaivara.”

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Preceding provided by Anti-Defamation League

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Israel admitted into Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

May 12, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–Members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group of leading international economies have voted unanimously to invite Israel to join. The 31-member  Paris based OECD said Slovenia and Estonia would also be invited to join. OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría welcomed the decision as a “new chapter” in the body’s history, and Israel’s Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz hailed it as a “historic success”. 

The OECD praised Israel’s scientific and technological progress as having “produced outstanding outcomes on a world scale”. However it has called on Israel to improve education standards, and levels of poverty and inequality – particularly among its ultra-orthodox Jewish communities and the Israeli-Arab minority. The organization said its member countries hoped membership would bring all three new countries “closer to OECD standards in all fields”.

“It gives legitimacy to Israel as an advanced and developed country,” Steinitz said on public radio. Israel has been one of the best-performing Western economies in recent years, achieving annual growth above 5 percent. The country emerged from the global credit crisis earlier than the US and Europe, allowing its central bank to raise interest rates before any of its counterparts in the current economic cycle. Unemployment stands at 7.4 per cent and is expected to fall, while the economy is forecast to grow by 3.7 per cent this year and 4 per cent in 2011.

On Sunday, Trade Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer accused the Palestinian Authority of trying to derail Israel’s application to become an OECD member state. The PA had written to OECD member states, urging them to vote to delay inviting Israel. “Accepting Israel means giving legitimacy to its policies and accepting its aggressive and racist practices against the Palestinian people,” the letter signed by Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said. “We view this as very serious and dangerous, because it helps Israel continue to take control of the Palestinian lands and economy, including East Jerusalem and the settlements in the West Bank” the letter said.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

Movement to equate communist rule with Holocaust seen as an attempt to marginalize latter

January 27, 2010 1 comment

JERUSALEM–Holocaust scholars have criticized a growing tendency in central and eastern Europe to equate the Shoah with Communist oppression, a trend which they consider “the gravest threat to preserving the memory of the Holocaust” as it served to exculpate populations complicit in the extermination of their Jewish minorities, according to a report by the Israeli newspaper ‘Haaretz’.

Professor Yehuda Bauer of the Hebrew University called equation attempts “campaigns to marginalize the Holocaust.”

According to a number of leading experts on the Holocaust, the state-sponsored equation of Nazi crimes with Communist brutality in central and eastern Europe is the most serious threat to preserving the memory of the Holocaust. This phenomenon was especially prevalent in Lithuania but also existed in certain circles in Poland, said Laurence Weinbaum of the World Jewish Congress, who specializes in Polish-Jewish relations.

He was quoted by the newspaper as saying: “In the Baltic states, especially Lithuania and Latvia, the campaign to consign the victims of the Holocaust and of Communism to the same basket is a transparent attempt to blur Baltic societies’ wholesale complicity in the murder of their Jewish populations.”

In August, the prime ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania signed a joint declaration supporting a call to make 23 August European day of remembrance for victims of both Stalinism and Nazism. “In Lithuania, equalizing Stalinism and Nazism is a ruse to delete the stain of massive collaboration,” Professor Dovid Katz, a Vilnius-based researcher, told ‘Haaretz’: “Instead of facing the past, the state deletes the Holocaust as a category and buries it in another paradigm.”

Weinbaum noted that “Polish society as a whole cannot be seen as a perpetrator-nation, as can be the Lithuanians.” While some Poles were complicit in the murder and despoliation of Jews, he noted, “others rescued them.” He said that in Poland, some circles, especially Polish Holocaust scholars, “vociferously oppose” a combined commemoration date while others supported it for nationalistic reasons. “To be sure, no one can or should minimize the untold suffering caused by Communist tyranny, of which Jews were also victims, but common commemoration will only serve to disfigure memory and history.”

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Cyber-terrorism threat grows around the world

January 18, 2010 Leave a comment

 HAIFA (Press Release)–“Carry out all my demands or the entire country’s electricity will be cut off.” Is this another line from a suspense film, or is it a palpable threat made possible with a computer keyboard?

“Today, there is a growing trend amongst hackers around the world to threaten national infrastructures for ransom,” says Dr. Yaniv Levyatan, an expert in information war at the University of Haifa.

If someone still thinks that this is science fiction, Dr. Levyatan notes how just recently, in November 2009, Brazil’s electricity was blacked out for more than an hour.

“It is still not clear what happened, but one assumption is that it was a cyber -terror attack,” he suggests, adding that in 2007 Estonia’s computer infrastructures were attacked, most likely by Russian hackers, bringing the country to a near standstill for about 48 hours.

According to Dr. Levyatan, in today’s world, the battlefield is not only comprised of tanks and planes, but also computer experts’ and hackers’ keyboards. “To date, most of the ‘online fighting’ has focused on attempts to vandalize and immobilize leading websites to impose a virtual presence and damage morale. For example, during the Second Lebanon War, Israeli and Hezbollah-supporting hackers were at “war” as each side attempted to damage and immobilize each other’s websites. Likewise, during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, many Israeli websites were attacked by Hamas-supporting hackers.

The next stage is the attempt to cause damage to systems that are operated by computer networks, such as financial systems, power stations, hospitals, television broadcasts, and satellites. “A fleet of fighter planes is not necessary to attack a power station; a keyboard is sufficient. And if you don’t have the skills, there are enough mercenary hackers who can do it for you,” says Dr. Yaniv Levyatan.

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Preceding provided by University of Haifa

Demjanjuk lawyers seeking trial delay in Munich

January 13, 2010 2 comments

MUNICH, Germany (WJC) — The alleged Nazi war criminal Ivan Demjanjuk may have his trial postponed after an appeal to the court by his attorney. The 89-year-old Ukrainian-born man is on trial in Munich charged with helping to murder 27,900 Jews at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.  The case resumed on Tuesday.

Demjanjuk’s defense lawyer Ulrich Busch said German law could not be applied to Demjanjuk as he was born in the Ukraine. He has also argued that the trial had to be suspended while documents from Demjanjuk’s previous trials in Israel and the US are located. Busch told the court that the defense could not be prepared properly “because of missing documents.” Demjanjuk’s lawyers have repeatedly called for the trial to be abandoned because of their client’s ill health.

Meanwhile, it is reported that Harry Männil, an Estonian alleged to have murdered 100 Jews during World War II, has died in his adopted homeland of Costa Rica at the age of 89. Männil was believed to be the richest Estonian in the world. In the past, Israeli authorities said that they had obtained documents from US authorities which indicated that he was a high-ranking Nazi. Männil himself always denied accusations.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress